On Thursday, Donald Trump reached the magic number — 1,237. That’s the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination, and he got there after 29 unbound Republican delegates decided to support him at the convention.
NPR’s Don Gonyea spoke to some of those delegates to ask what made them decide to support Trump.
Ben Koppelman, Republican convention delegate from North Dakota
On switching support from Cruz to Trump
I was committed to supporting Ted Cruz all the way to the convention, regardless of if Mr. Trump has 1,237 or not. But when Mr. Cruz suspended his campaign, that put me in the undecided category. Honestly, I held out a long time to get the most information to make my opinions and thoughts known as much as I could within the Trump campaign and ultimately, when it came down to it, Mr. Trump took the time to come to North Dakota. … It made it where I was comfortable in saying that at this point and time, he’s the best candidate in the race to lead our country, and certainly better than Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. As best as I know, I was actually the last delegate — I was actually 1,237.
On what Trump needs to do now
It’s got to be more than just the winning. It’s got to be — are we going to have a candidate that can govern. I believe that he’s got the potential because he’s got the leadership skills, but he needs to show people that he’s got the depth in the areas that are most affecting their lives. Once he does that, I think he’ll be a much better candidate.
Steve House, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party
On his message to Republicans who are undecided
Do you like where America is? If the answer is no, then why not give someone who is a pure businessperson an opportunity to change the way we go forward with the country? And secondly, the Supreme Court is at stake as well as things like Obamacare. … I think we have to address these things and I think we need a Republican president to do that.
On Trump’s persona
For me, having been in politics such a short period of time, I do like the fact that he approaches things without any fear of how the media’s going to react to him. I think that for too long in politics, with all due respect to those in the media, candidates and politicians themselves have let themselves be less than who they are with the public because they are afraid of media reaction, re-election, etc. I think in Donald Trump’s case, he’s broadened the horizon of the ability of any of us to say — look, this is how it is and don’t be afraid to say what you really believe. … I think in general, people worry far too much about the media reaction to what they say.
Pam Pollard, state chairwoman of the Oklahoma Republican Party
On delegates deciding to support Trump because he won their district
I personally applaud that type of logic for the right reasons. The reason behind it is, that by definition … we are a republic, a representative form of government. And most of our states … elect delegates, which is representative of the voters to go cast a vote, representative of those voters. So it encourages me when I continue to hear people say that I am setting my personal feelings aside and I am going to this convention as a delegate, which is supposed to be representative of the people that sent you to that convention.
On why she supports Trump
I think he brings a new dynamic to politics in America. I think that his theme has touched something that has brought a lot of excitement and a lot of hope to a lot of voters … and that people are not happy with where our country is right now. … His theme of “Make America Great,” is selling. It’s something that inspires people.
Marc Scaringi, Republican convention delegate from Pennsylvania
On avoiding a convention fight
If Trump came up short of that 1,237 prior to the convention, it was going to be a real fight on the floor of the convention. It would have been ugly. It would have been nasty. It would have portrayed us in a negative light in the eyes of the world. And so I’m so glad for our party and for the Trump candidacy that he’s wrapped it up right now.
On Trump being over the top
It’s a great sign for our country that so many Americans are now supporting the Trump campaign. It’s a wonderful example of what the people power can do because so much of the Trump candidacy and success has been fueled by just grass-roots conservatives and grass-roots Republicans and we’ve carried the nomination for him.
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